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Written by Ret'd Chief Armand La Barge


Meeting with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID)

While in Rome, President Khaja and the APMC delegation had meetings with His Excellency Bishop Miguel Ayuso, the Titular Bishop of Luperciana, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID).  We discussed matters of mutual interest and ways of working together to break down barriers and build bridges between members of the Catholic and Islamic faiths. 

His Excellency Bishop Ayuso spoke to the delegation about the creation of the centre, its purposes to work within the global village in a world where religious institutions are constantly being called on to be progressive, and recent outreach they have been able to accomplish.  His Excellency Bishop Ayuso iterated a commonality between the centre and the APMC to promote dialogue of respect and friendship with a message of peace and congratulated the APMC on its achievements.

This meeting took place on October 25, 2018 and was arranged in advance.  All who attended felt enriched by experience and dialogue.

PCID was created in 1964 by Pope Paul VI under the name of the Secretariat for Non Christians.  It was renamed the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID) in 1988.  The PCID is the central office of the Catholic Church for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue in accordance with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, in particular the declaration “Nostra Aetate."  Its purpose is to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of other religious traditions; to encourage the study of religions and to promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue.  While PCID is the central office for dialogue in the Catholic Church, dialogue is mainly carried out and through local churches.  The PCID works in close collaboration with dialogue commissions at the national or regional level and encourages their formation where they do not yet exist.

Meeting with the Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica (PISAI).

President Khaja and the APMC delegation also had a meeting with Professor (Father) Christopher Clohessy of South Africa, Professor (Father) Andrew Lane of Canada and Professor (Father) Wullobayi Martin Awaana of Ghana for the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI).  Matters of mutual interest and ways of working together to break down barriers and build bridges between members of the Catholic and Islamic faiths were discussed.

The meeting took place on October 25, 2018 and was arranged in advance 

PISAI was founded by the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).  It is a study and research centre whose teaching and scientific activities provide the necessary preparation for an informed theological dialogue with Muslims. The training which PISAI has offered for over 50 years, leading to the degrees of the Licentiate and the Doctorate in Arabic and Islamic Studies, is based on the in depth study of the Arabic language, the necessary tool which enables access to the fundamental texts of Islam. Courses in Islamic sciences seek to present the history and thought of traditional Islam, both classical and modern, in an unbiased scientific way. The stages in the training take place within an educational programme which strives above all to recognize the right of each individual to be different.  Teaching, publications and research are the primary tools for a serious, in depth preparation for human, theological, interreligious and intercultural dialogue. The students at PISAI, lay people and religious, come from every part of the world. At the end of their course of study at PISAI, many become actively involved through their work in direct or indirect contacts with the Muslim community. Among PISAI students can be found religious, lawyers, business people, journalists, translators, researchers, members of the armed forces, members of the diplomatic corps and many others.

Meeting with the Canadian Pontifical College on October 24, 2018

While we were in Rome, Armand and Denise La Barge and APMC President Mobeen Khaja had lunch with Father Ante Market, Bishop Donal McKeown and several of Father Market’s student priest colleagues from the Canadian Pontifical College.  Father Ante Market is a brilliant young priest from our Parish - St. Peter-in-Chains Parish - in the Peterborough Ontario Diocese.  Father Market is in his 6th year of study for his doctorate in Canon Law.  He will be writing his thesis in Canon Law in English and defending it in Italian.  Before he started his studies, he spent several months learning Italian in Florence.  When he has completed his doctorate Father Market will return to Canada, where in addition to his duties in the Peterborough Diocese, he expects to take up teaching duties at St. Augustin Seminary in Toronto. 

Father Ante Market was ordained on May 27, 2011, by the Most Reverend Bishop Nicola De Angelis of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough at the Cathedral of St. Peter-in-Chains.  Father Ante was born in Toronto to Croatian parents.  Two days after his ordination, he celebrated his first Mass at the Father Kamber Park in Streetsville, the most popular Croatian park in the GTA, owned by the Croatian Parish in Toronto.  Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga honoured Father Market and the Croatian congregation in attendance by praising their rich contribution to Canadian society. Father Market was the first graduate in the history of Toronto’s Chaminade Catholic College School to be ordained to the priesthood.  Before studying at St. Augustin in Toronto, Father Ante studied at the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Zagreb, Croatia.  In addition to St. Peter-in-Chains Parish, Father Market has served at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Assumption (Peterborough Diocese).  During our visit with Father Ante, we had the pleasure of meeting the Most Reverend Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry Ireland.  Bishop McKeown was staying at the Canadian Pontifical College while he was attending meetings in Rome.  We also had the privilege of meeting several of Father Ante’s student priest colleagues from Canada, including a young priest from the Hamilton Diocese, one from Gambia, Africa and one from Goa, India.

That Canadian Pontifical College was opened in 1888 as a residence for Canadian and Sulpician priests who are pursuing graduate studies in various universities in Rome.  It was recognized as a Pontifical Institution in 1932 by a decree of the Roman Congregation for Seminaries and Universities and in 1937, it was granted civil recognition by a royal decree.  The College was initially at 117 Via Quattro Fontane and in 1977 it moved to its current location 75 Via Crescenzio, just a few minutes walk from St. Peter’s Basilica.  The building was the General House of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Mount of Varallo.  While many of the priests in the Canadian Pontifical College are from Canada, there are some from other countries who reside there.  The College can accommodate 21 student priests.  Most of the priests are completing their doctorates in one of the ecclesiastical sciences.

In November 1988, to celebrate the centenary of the College, a banquet was held in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a residence within Vatican City.  Speaking to the Cardinals, Bishops, priests and friends of the College who were present, Blessed Pope John Paul II said: 

Establishing a College in Rome allows the students to have a different experience of university from the one of their respective countries, and, at the same time, to complement it. They have the opportunity to benefit from the contribution of teachers coming from nearly all nations of the world. Through daily personal contact with other students, they become aware of the aspirations and the interests of priests, monks and nuns coming from other cultures with an experience of Church life different from theirs. Concretely, in Rome students can discover the universality of the Church, her diversity as well as the richness of its unity. 

These priests are completing their doctorates at the Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Lateran University and other institutions in Rome.  The scholastic year begins in the first week of October and ends in June.  In most of the courses the lecture system is followed and at stated times formal disputations are held in accordance with scholastic methods. The course of studies, whether leading to a degree or not, is prescribed and it extends, generally speaking, through six years, two of which are devoted to philosophy and four to theology.

To philosophy in the stricter sense are added courses in mathematics, languages, and natural sciences.  Theology includes, besides dogmatic and moral theology, courses in liturgy, archaeology, Church history, canon law and Scripture.  An oral examination is held in the middle of the year and a written examination (concursus) at the close. The usual degrees (baccalaureate, licentiate, and doctorate) are conferred in philosophy, theology, and canon law; since 1909 degrees in Sacred Scripture are conferred upon students who fulfill the requirements of the Biblical Institute.

Here are some photos from these meetings: